May 26, 2015 / 1:13 PM / 2 years ago

Palmyra's ancient ruins unharmed for now: Syria antiquities chief

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria’s antiquities chief said on Tuesday the historic city of Palmyra had been unharmed since ultra-radical Islamic State insurgents seized it from state control last week.

Tourists walk in the historical city of Palmyra, April 14, 2007. REUTERS/Nour Fourat

Maamoun Abdulkarim said he was still afraid the jihadist group would blow up Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old Roman ruins at Palmyra including tombs and the Temple of Bel, which could be viewed as idolatrous in its puritanical vision of Islam.

Still, Abdulkarim told Reuters by phone, “the historic city is fine. There is no damage so far”. He cited contacts with people on the ground in the central Syrian city. Palmyra, also known as Tadmur, is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A short video posted by an account supportive of Islamic State on YouTube on Tuesday claimed to show Palmyra after the jihadists took control.

The footage, mostly filmed without sound and people, showed the Palmyria’s ancient citadel, columns, colosseum, buildings and walls. One shot showed black smoke rising behind ancient ruins but it did not appear that any of the historical sites had been obviously damaged by the week of fighting.

Reporting by Kinda Makieh in Syria and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Tom Perry/Sylvia Westall; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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